Inflation hampers efforts to finalise deal for groundbreaking school
Edinburgh Council insists its ambitions to build Scotland’s first Passivhaus school will not be watered down, despite “market conditions” hampering attempts to agree a final price for the flagship project.
Councillors at the Scottish authority passed a motion agreeing to ensure the scheme at Currie Community High School retained its sustainability focus, regardless of construction cost inflation.
Enabling works are due to begin on the zero-carbon campus for 1,000 pupils during the forthcoming summer holidays. But it has emerged that price and completion-date negotiations remain under way with the preferred bidder for the job, understood to be Kier.
Scottish National Party councillor Neil Gardiner proposed a motion at a meeting of the full council last week, calling for reassurance that the fundamental principles of the project would not be watered down.
Following debate, the council passed wording asking for a report to update on the construction of the school “in the context of construction price inflation due to labour and supply-chain issues related to Brexit and the pandemic”.
It said this report must address issues that include ensuring the school achieved Passivhaus status and did not lose any planned educational or community facilities.
The agreed motion added: “Any delay in completion of construction will not impact the quality of education, facilities and development of teaching materials for those pupils currently attending Currie Community High School.”
The school told parents at the end of June that it was entering an “exciting period” as it set out plans for a new entrance route during construction.
But a council spokesperson conceded that “due to the current situation with the construction sector and market conditions, the preferred contractor has not yet completed all their market testing and has not yet been able to submit a cost to us for the project”.
Councillor Joan Griffiths said: “I realise the local community may be concerned to hear about delays, but I want to reassure them that we are still working towards a completion date of 2024 for the new Currie High School.
“This is a difficult time for the construction sector globally due to the impact of the pandemic. However, a confirmed date for the school will be agreed as part of the final contract negotiations with the preferred contractor next month.”
She added: “The new Currie High School is a really exciting project for the council, as it will be the first Passivhaus secondary school in Scotland, and is part of our £500m planned investment over the next decade to create a first-class learning estate and ensure all our children have the best possible learning environment in which to flourish.”
Architype designed the campus, which will include a three-storey teaching block, a wellness centre, leisure centre, community library and a café.
Kier has been contacted for comment.